Other environmental impacts
Many animals and plants are increasingly threatened because of international trade in rare or endangered wildlife and associated products. We recognise that airlines play an important role in combating this threat to biodiversity through responsible cargo management. In response, we have developed our cargo policy to prevent the carriage of illegal or endangered species. Our stakeholders also support our embargos on various endangered species or products, such as ivory and shark fin.
In 2016, we signed the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration. As a signatory to the declaration, we are committed to neither facilitate nor tolerate the carriage of wildlife products, where trade in those products contravenes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Aircraft noise is concern of communities living close to airports. Noise disturbance is generated by two main aviation activities - flight operations and ground operations. However, the industry has been working to reduce noise for decades and substantial progress has been made.
We follow the "Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management” recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). More specifically, we focus our efforts on two areas: developing more efficient operating procedures and investing in new technology.
We improve planning and deploy the most suitable aircraft to certain routes at certain times where possible. For example, in 2010, we made arrangements to increase the use of quieter Boeing 777-300ER aircraft instead of the Boeing 747-400s on more of the Hong Kong to London flights to alleviate noise impacts around London Heathrow airport during landing and take-off. Our pilots adhere to any additional airport-specific noise abatement procedures (like noise abatement zones, engine run up restrictions and preferred runways or flight paths) that may be required.
Manufacturers' new technologies - be it new aircraft or new equipment - have produced significant noise reductions. As part of our fleet renewal programme, Cathay Pacific acquired quieter aircraft. For example, our new Airbus A350-900s are designed to reduce aircraft noise and are equipped with automatic Noise Abatement Departure Procedures (NADP) which optimize flight path to mitigate noise over densely populated areas.
Similar to noise, local air quality issues are of significant concern for local communities, especially those living near airports.
In areas surrounding airports, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) are usually considered the most important contributors to local air quality concerns.
Since the 1960s, levels of carbon monoxide have come down by 50% and unburned hydrocarbons and smoke by around 90%. Research is targeting a further 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by 2020. The aviation industry is also making substantial investments in cleaner ground support equipment and vehicles to improve local air quality.
In Hong Kong, local levels of air emissions from aviation in Hong Kong have remained relatively stable over recent years at 6% of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 3% of carbon monoxide (CO) and 2% of other air pollutants, according to the latest air pollutant emission inventory published in 2007.
Overall, aviation has a significantly lower impact on local air quality than other source categories, such as road transportation for example. We continue to take air quality initiatives in the air and on the ground to reduce emissions.